Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

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Wright odd man out in Collins' new rotation

For now, Sixers head coach Doug Collins has found a rotation that he is going to stick with.

That means that barely two weeks after he took a DNP-CD in a seven-point victory over the Rockets and was deemed out of the rotation by the coach, Nick Young will continue to start for the Sixers.

The next trick for Collins is to “build a bench.”

“We started out with a different group and now we’re trying to create a bench,” Collins explained following Tuesday’s practice at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. “We’ve had Jason Richardson in and out and [Nick Young] was out for a while and Jrue (Holiday) was out for a while. Now we’re going with a starting lineup that gets us off to better starts and two of our offensive guys are starting and we have a defensive bench. I have to make sure I have enough scoring on the floor when [I go to the bench].”

Young started the last two games, scoring 20 points in a blowout victory over the Knicks and 13 in a loss against the Grizzlies. Meanwhile, since being benched and removed from the rotation, Young has averaged 14.7 points in six games while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from three-point range.

With Richardson expected to miss his fifth straight game with an injured left knee on Wednesday, Collins has decided to use his bench for defense.

In other words, expect Damien Wilkins and Royal Ivey to continue to log minutes off the bench, along with Lavoy Allen and Kwame Brown coming on to spell Spencer Hawes and Thad Young in the frontcourt.

The player on the outside looking in for all of this? Dorell Wright.

“I’ve just gone to a different starting lineup,” Collins said. “The guys I’m bringing off the bench, I’m going to a little bit more of a defensive mindset.”

It’s been an up-and-down year for Wright to say the least. He did not see action in either of the last two games and played a combined 25 minutes in the three games prior to that. However, Wright was invaluable at the start of the season for Collins, who used the veteran as a starter when Richardson missed some games with a sprained ankle.

Wright buried a three-pointer in the first eight games and in 10 of the first 11. He averaged nearly 13 points and nearly 30 minutes of playing time through the first seven games of the season.

And then Wright was on a Yo-yo between the middle and the fringe of the rotation. Still, despite sporadic playing time, Wright scored 20-plus in back-to-back games in December during the trips to Dallas and Houston. He also scored a season-high 28 points on 11 shots in a victory on Dec. 26 in Memphis.

But since the calendar flipped to 2013, Wright has averaged 5.9 points in his last 11 appearances, though he has shot the three-pointer reasonably well at 34.3 percent (12 for 35).

The situation with Wright bears watching. Acquired in an offseason trade with Golden State, Wright has one of those coveted expiring contracts that could make him trade bait as the Feb. 21 deadline approaches.

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Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

Adjusting to new home, Ben Simmons plays role model at Sixers Camp

WAYNE, Pa. — Three steps. 

That’s all it takes before Ben Simmons is recognized walking through the streets of Philadelphia. 

This year’s No. 1 pick has been in the spotlight long before the Sixers drafted him in June, and now he's experiencing what it's like to be known as an NBA player in his new city. 

“I’ve been enjoying walking around South Street, getting some Ishkabibble's,” Simmons said Tuesday after a special appearance at the Sixers' Camp at Valley Forge Military Academy. 

At 6-foot-10, Simmons towers above most on the court, let alone on the sidewalk. Fans have been eager to welcome him to Philadelphia for a new chapter of the organization after three years of struggle. 

“Positive things,” Simmons said of the comments he receives. “I think a lot of people are excited, so I’ve been looking forward to it.”

Simmons understands the impact a professional athlete can have on young fans, and was excited to be at camp Tuesday.

Growing up in Australia, he never had the opportunity to hear from NBA players when he attended basketball camps. Now that he's in that position, the 20-year-old was glad to provide that memory to the 240 campers. 

“That would mean a lot if I was able to experience that,” Simmons said. 

Simmons demonstrated skill drills, such as passing fundamentals, interacted in a Q&A session and signed autographs for each camper. He also took individual photos for those who traveled internationally, including from Nigeria, Italy and Greece. 

“I’m just like them, but older,” Simmons said. “I’m just trying to be a good role model to them.”

Simmons plans to spend most of the offseason in Philadelphia as he gets settled into the city. He still has to move into his new home, but at least he knows where to get a cheesesteak in the meantime. 

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

NBA Notes: Dion Waiters signs 1-year deal with Heat

Two people with knowledge of the situation tell The Associated Press that the Miami Heat have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with free agent guard Dion Waiters.

The two sides came to agreement on Monday. Waiters will make $2.9 million. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

Waiters averaged 9.8 points for the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, but had several big games in the playoffs. He played particularly well against Dallas and San Antonio in the playoffs before his role was reduced in the seven-game loss to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

Waiters will give the Heat another scorer off the bench (see full story).

Blazers: C.J. McCullom inked to four-year extension
PORTLAND, Ore. -- A person familiar with the deal confirms that guard CJ McCollum has agreed to a four-year, $106 million contract extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday because the deal hadn't been formally announced by the team. It was first reported by Yahoo Sports.

McCollum, who was named the NBA's Most Improved Player, averaged 20.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists for the Blazers during the regular season. He raised his scoring average by more than 14 points over the previous season.

As the 10th overall pick for the Blazers in the 2013 draft, McCollum bided his time on the bench for his first two seasons. He became a starter in the backcourt with Damian Lillard last season after four of the team's starters departed in the offseason (see full story).

Michael Jordan donates $2 million to ease racial tensions
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Michael Jordan is trying to help ease tension between African-Americans and law enforcement.

The NBA great and Charlotte Hornets owner said Monday he's giving $1 million to the Institute for Community-Police Relations and $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The aim is to help build trust following several shootings around the country.

Jordan says in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday that "as a proud American, a father who lost his own dad in a senseless act of violence, and a black man, I have been deeply troubled by the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of law enforcement and angered by the cowardly and hateful targeting and killing of police officers," (see full story).

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

Sixers officially sign guard Brandon Paul

The Sixers continued to add to their roster Monday, announcing the signing of guard Brandon Paul. 

Paul participated on the Sixers' summer league squad in Las Vegas, where he averaged 10.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 0.7 assists in 19.5 minutes. He also played for the Hornets in Utah. 

The 25-year-old went undrafted out Illinois in 2013 and has been playing overseas and in the D-League since then. Last season, he led FIATC Joventut (Spain) in scoring with 13.2 points per game. Paul also has been a member of the Canton Charge (D-League) and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia). 

Next season he could play for the Sixers' Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers. 

Paul is one of several offseason additions for the Sixers. The team has signed Ben Simmons, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Dario Saric, Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, James Webb III and Shawn Long. The Sixers also have reportedly agreed to a deal with Cat Barber.